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Low Cost Fabrication of Thin-Film Ceramic Membranes for Nonshrinking Substrates

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

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Technology Marketing SummaryCertain fuel cell manufacturing specifications require deposition of a thin ceramic membrane onto a substrate that doesn't shrink over it's lifetime. Pre-firing the substrate improves substrate reliability and may lower its cost. This requires a film that has minimal volume change during drying and sintering.DescriptionCraig Jacobson, Steven Visco, and Lutgard DeJonghe have discovered that by systematically adjusting the concentration of suspended particles and current density /voltage used in electrophoretic deposition (EPD), they can produce high density green (pre-sintered) films that can be dried and sintered onto a non-shrinking substrate without cracking or delaminating. This method has the potential for large-scale, cost-effective production.

The Berkeley Lab method has a combination of characteristics that make it preferable to other methods of applying films to non-shrinking substrates. Unlike electrochemical vapor deposition, which is inherently a capital intensive batch process, the Berkeley Lab method is inexpensive and scalable. In contrast to films produced using colloidal deposition, the green films fabricated with the Berkeley Lab EPD method are highly dense and only shrink minimally during sintering, thus eliminating cracking and delamination. Conventional EPD methods produce films with lower green densities leading to cracking during drying and/or sintering due to the large volume change of the film relative to the non-shrinking substrate.
  • Produces high quality films on non-shrinking substrates
  • Scalable for low cost industrial production
  • Minimum number of processing steps
  • Enables sintering at lower temperatures by increasing the green (pre-sintered) density of the film
Applications and Industries
  • Tubular solid oxide fuel cells
  • Ceramic membrane fabrication
  • Electrolytic separation
Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Patent 6,887,361
Method for making thin-film ceramic membrane on non-shrinking continuous or porous substrates by electrophoretic deposition
A disclosed method provides techniques for forming low-cost, mechanically strong, highly electronically conductive porous structures for solid-state electrochemical devices. In particular, a method of forming a ceramic film on a substrate using electrophoretic deposition (EPD) is described. The method employs a colloidal dispersion of particles during the EPD process where a distribution of particle sizes is selected to eliminate drying cracks in the ceramic film prior to firing of the ceramic film-coated substrate. The method may be used to provide a high-density green film which can be sintered on to a non-shrinking substrate. For instance, a thin film of YSZ with a high green density may be sintered on to a non-shrinking LSM substrate. In particular embodiments, the distribution of particle sizes used in the EPD process may be selected to reduce a firing temperature and a firing time during sintering of the film coated substrate.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory 05/03/2005
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
IB-1304DevelopmentAvailable - available for exclusive or non-exclusive licensing within all fields of use with the following exception: only available for non-exclusive licensing within the field of use covering preparation of industrial gases and organic chemicals produced through electrolytic separation by means of a membrane.06/21/201007/28/2010

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To: Shanshan Li<>